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Get Ready for a Memorable Concert in April

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai… the idea of Schubert and Schumann in a cabaret setting may surprise you. It surprised me the first time I heard about it, as well, but as soon as I understood the entire concept, I was enthusiastic! Contemporary Dutch composer and conductor Reinbert de Leeuw has taken 27 art songs by Schubert and Schumann, deconstructed them, and then refashioned them into the one of the most fascinating and touching works I know of. Far from doing damage to these incredible songs,  the resulting work is a loving tribute to 19th-Century genius, seen through modern eyes.

Georg Mühlberg: Im wunderschönen Monat Mai
Georg Mühlberg: Im wunderschönen Monat Mai

The songs were all originally for voice and piano, but de Leeuw has arranged them for soprano and small orchestra. They are put together in a brilliant way, so that the texts––about love, loss, and regret–– become paramount. Sometimes the original vocal line is used unchanged, but often only fragments of the melody are heard, interspersed by spoken voice and Sprechstimme (literally “speak-singing”, a sort of hybrid of the two, popularized by Arnold Schoenberg in 1912's Pierrot Lunaire). The music itself is often made into a sort of collage, with the original musical lines darting and chasing each other. Having done all of that transmutation, de Leeuw manages to make the whole work a tonal, beautiful, and complete musical and dramatic experience!

Mary MacKenzie
Mary MacKenzie

The evening is an incredibly touching tour de force for stellar soprano Mary MacKenzie. For an hour, she must sing, speak, sprechstimme, and act…all in an intimate cabaret setting. How are we doing that? We plan to have cafe tables and chairs (and Redlands Symphony patrons) onstage in Memorial Chapel alongside the musicians! Mary will move throughout the stage, in costume and in character. Our brilliant stage director, A. Scott Parry, has sculpted the piece into a truly moving narrative of a young woman in love who goes through various stages of infatuation, obsession, true love, loss, and reflection. I conducted this work with both Mary and Scott two years ago at the Bravo!Vail festival in Colorado, and it was an extremely gratifying experience. The audience was moved to tears, of both the tragic and the joyous kinds. I am thrilled to be able to share this wonderful work with you!

Musically yours,

Ransom Wilson

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